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Kenneth Dong, godson of senators and alleged middleman in shabu shipment, arrested in Senate over rape allegation

File photo of Kenneth Dong from Facebook account of FB account of A-Linx Events International Inc

MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Kenneth Dong, the alleged middleman in the shipment of P6.4-billion worth of shabu, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he was accused of committing rape in Cebu.

Dong, a known patron of politicians and godson of senators, was taken into custody by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents after he participated in the Senate’s inquiry into the big-time smuggling of shabu that was able to enter the country via the Bureau of Customs’ express lane.

The arrest warrant, dated July 21, 2016, was issued by Judge Aida Estrella Macapagal of the Parañaque Regional Trial Court-Branch 915.

Authorities did not handcuff Dong while he was at the Senate building in Pasay City. He was escorted out of the establishment and was read his Miranda rights before he was brought to the NBI headquarters in Manila for booking procedures.

Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joel Villanueva, and Ralph Recto became Dong’s godparents in his November 9, 2013 wedding with Lovell Tee at the Shrine of Jesus followed by a reception at Hotel Sofitel, both located in Pasay.

Hontiveros, Pangilinan, Zubiri, and Villanueva admitted knowing Dong but not as someone allegedly linked to narcotics. They confirmed that he is their godson, whom they knew as a businessman, a benefactor, or a poll campaign donor.

Recto was also among Dong’s ninongs but said that he had failed to attend the nuptial.


Palace says bird flu strain not harmful

BIRD FLU WATCH In response to the bird flu outbreak in San Luis town in Pampanga, animal quarantine checkpoints like this one have been set up by government agencies. —ALEXIS CORPUZ

The avian flu strain that hit poultry in Pampanga province is not harmful to humans, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said it was up to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to decide on the request of Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda to lift the quarantine in San Luis town, where the virus struck, because it was affecting duck raisers.
“Our first concern is the safety of our consumers and citizens,” Abella said in a press briefing.

“So far, there is no indication that this strain of avian flu is harmful to humans, but we will continue to validate this and take all precautions needed,” he added.
Abella said the government’s long-term concern was to sustain and support “our local poultry industry as it weathers this first-time crisis.”

“We will work closely with them to eliminate this problem soonest and to restore our country’s chicken exports to their premium position in international markets,” he said.
Malacañang earlier said it was monitoring the quality and price of poultry products following a Department of Agriculture (DA) report of an outbreak of avian flu.
“We believe the DA has acted fast on the issue and has managed to isolate and contain the virus,” Abella said.
Prices fall
“Concerned government agencies are now looking at businesses that might take advantage of the situation and are monitoring the price of raw and processed chicken meat in the markets,” he said.
“While we assure the public that there will be no price increase in chicken meat as there is only one area affected by the avian flu, we must see to it that uncontaminated meat is sold in the markets,” he added.

Market prices for chicken have decreased by P30-P40 to P90 per kilo from P125-P150 per kilo.
Piñol on Friday said around 200,000 fowl in San Luis had been affected by the outbreak. He said the chickens were not necessarily infected, only culled because they were within the 1-kilometer quarantine radius.
The virus was believed to have originated in San Luis’ layer farms in April but was discovered only in August after government experts conducted tests, he said.
On Monday, the DA issued a new memorandum circular allowing the shipment of live domestic birds and products from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon.
In a news conference, Piñol said the movement of all live domestic wild birds, including poultry meat, eggs, chicks and manure from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao remained banned as a precaution.
“Inverse supply will be allowed. Visayas and Mindanao can supply Luzon provided this is outside the danger zone,” he said.
As of Wednesday, 16,865 chickens had been culled, according to Arlene Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
More than 180,000 chickens are left to be culled, which will be paid for by the DA at P80 a piece. A total of P16 million will be allotted to compensate for the chickens.
Loan assistance
The DA will also allocate P50 million for a loan assistance program for the poultry operators and owners while they are not allowed to continue production.
It told the public to eat poultry and poultry products “at your own risk,” as the agency was still awaiting the result of the laboratory test of the flu virus sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory.
Although four laboratory tests done locally confirmed the H5 strain of the flu virus in San Luis, it would take two weeks to know whether the virus has an N7 component, which will make it transmissible to humans, Vytiaco said.
BAI disclosed that parallel testings were done by the regional animal diagnostic laboratory in Central Luzon, the animal diagnostic laboratory in BAI, the University of the Philippines Los Baños and San Miguel Corp.
Nonetheless, DA said there had been no report of any incident of animal-to-human transmissions since the outbreak.



Uber announces suspension of operations

In this Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 file photo, a man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Drivers for Uber and other companies most often are considered independent contractors who are self-employed. Rather than receive a W-2, they'll get a 1099 form reporting their income. AP
After being slapped with a one-month suspension by the Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Uber Philippines announced that it was temporarily stopping its operations starting Tuesday.
“Effective 6:00 a.m. of Tuesday, August 15, Uber will suspend its operations in compliance with an LTFRB order last night,” Uber Philippines said in a statement posted on their social media accounts.

The transport network company (TNC) also apologized to the riding public and assured them that it would ask for reconsideration from the LTFRB.
“We apologize to our riding public for this inconvenience. We will do our best to resolve this quickly,” Uber Philippines said. “We will ask for a reconsideration and have the order lifted or the one-month suspension shortened.”

“We are deeply committed to serving our riders and drivers partners, and are doing everything we can to resolve this situation at the soonest possible time,” the TNC added.
The LTFRB, in its cease-and-desist order that was released and took effect Monday night, said that Uber was “irresponsible” when it continued to accept and activate new drivers into its platform despite the July 26 order against it.
“The objective of the board now is to strike a gentle balance between innovation and the law for the public good… What takes precedence then? No doubt, it is the law. The law which defines fair and suitable regulation is the great equalizer in addressing and fulfilling the common good,” the LTFRB order said. CBB


‘Easy, easy!’ PH tells parties in Korean threat trade; contingency set for Pinoys in Guam, Sokor

The Department of Foreign Affairs building in Manila, in Phil. Star file photo.
MANILA – The Philippines has reiterated its call for restraint in the Korean Peninsula, even as it stepped up contingency for tens of thousands of Filipinos based in South Korea and in Guam, the US territory that North Korea has threatened to attack.

“The Philippine Embassy in Seoul and the Consulate General in Agana have been monitoring the situation closely and have been working closely with the Filipino communities in the Republic of Korea and Guam, respectively, to ensure preparedness for any eventuality,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Also on Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs assured the public that contingency measures are in place in case the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) make good its threat to fire missiles towards Guam.

In a statement Sunday, DFA said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano was on the phone with Ambassador Raul Hernandez in Seoul and Consul General Marciano de Borja in Agana for updates on the situation in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The Department said both Ambassador Hernandez and Consul General De Borja have given assurances that their respective contingency plans for the Filipino community are in place should the tensions in the Korean Peninsula escalate further.

Cayetano echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s calls for both the United States and the DPRK to exercise restraint and to take the necessary steps to avoid further escalation of the situation.

DFA cited estimates of approximately 65,000 Filipinos in South Korea and another 42,835 in Guam.


Duterte gov’t’s use of drug boxes, drug-free stickers might lead to mistaken arrests, discrimination – CHR

File photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has expressed concern over the government’s use of drug boxes and drug-free stickers as part of the Duterte administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.

In a statement issued Sunday, the CHR said that while it “supports the government’s campaign,” these measures might lead to mistaken arrests and discrimination of persons suspected of being involved in illegal drugs.

“The Commission fears that the manner of pursuing personalities involved in illegal drugs violates the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, infringing on their human rights guaranteed under local law and applicable international law,” it said.

The CHR said the “information collected through the drop boxes — while serves as tips or leads to the police — may expose an individual to mistaken arrest if the information is not verified and court processes are not involved.”

“In the same way, residents of a house with no drug-free sticker may be unduly discriminated and/or tagged as drug-users/pushers without due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution,” the commission said.

“This also violates the right of any person to be heard before he/she is condemned. A person’s honor, as well as the reputation of his/her family, would also be harmed,” it added.

The CHR said local and national authorities must be reminded that they should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons” as stated in Section 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

It also said that the country’s 1987 Charter and international covenants uphold “the individual’s right to privacy, human dignity, and equal treatment before the law without discrimination.”

“We recognize the vitality of any community-based program, which aims to highlight that peace and order is a shared responsibility of every Filipino, and that concerned citizens and sectors can proactively help the government in its campaign against crime and illegal drugs. But the CHR remains firm that authorities must ensure that these measures are not, in any way, violative of the Constitution and other human rights standards,” the commission said.

“The Commission continues to be watchful of the measures and procedures that are implemented. The Commission is also hopeful that the government will continue to re-examine its anti-drug campaign and adopt a strategic and comprehensive, but human rights-based approach,” it added.


Driver of police commander caught posing as a cop for extortion

IMPOSTER. Joseph Ruallo is brought inside the Camp Crame in Quezon City. Photo by Rambo Talabong/Rappler 

MANILA,Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) nabbed on Wednesday, August 9, Joseph Ruallo, a fake cop who extorted from a couple whose son was arrested for possession of illegal drugs.

Ruallo acted with real cops.

According to the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF) Commander Senior Superintendent Chiquito Malayo, Ruallo coordinated with 4 cops who catch drug suspects.

The policemen who caught the suspect told his parents that they know of another cop who can bring their son out of detention. They gave Ruallo's number.

"Ang sabi ng nakahuli, according to the complainant, pwede silang matulungan kausapin lang ang isang tao at nagbigay sila yung telephone number. Nagpakilala yung may hawak na pulis," Malayo said.

(According to the complainant, they were told that they can get help from someone. They were given a number. The voice on the other end introduced himself as police.)

Ruallo promised the son's freedom, in exchange for P50,000 in cash. The parents begged him to bring down the amount, so they agreed to P15,000. Suspicious, the parents reached out to the CITF, before the meeting.

A caliber .45 pistol was confiscated from Ruallo along with the P15,000.

Upon apprehension, police revealed that Ruallo was the driver of no less than the chief of Quezon City Police Station 5, Police Superintendent Bobby Ganipac.

Malayo said Ganipac denied knowledge of Raullo's racket.

The 4 cops in collusion with the scheme were relieved of their positions, after interogation.

Still, the Quezon City Police District chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar launched a station-wide investigation into the incident, from fear that other personnel may be involved. –


Duterte gov't eyes taxes on coal

COAL-FIRED POWERPLANT. The Duterte administration seeks to increase taxes on coal, considered the 'dirtiest' but cheapest power source. File photo 

MANILA, Philippines – After taxes on petroleum products, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte plans to tax coal, dubbed as the “dirtiest” source of fuel.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said this on Thursday, August 10, during a Senate hearing.

Before the Senate ways and means committee, Chua said the proposed taxes on petroleum products would also benefit the environment. 

But Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito questioned it: If that's the case why is the government not prioritizing taxes on coal, considered the most harmful to nature

Chua, in response, said the DOF would “soon” propose taxes on coal and carbon sources.

“In fact, coal, carbon taxation will be included in the proposed [tax reform] package 5, which will be presented soon,” Chua said, adding that the fifth package will also revisit taxes on health, environment, and mining.

But Ejercito asked: “Why not the first and second? I think coal is one of the dirtiest because everytime it runs, it emits elements in the atmosphere."

Chua explained it is difficult to rush it. More studies have to be done, he said, because it would be the first time the government would do it.

On the other hand, he said taxes on oil products have already been done and have been left untouched for the past 20 years.

At present, the House of Representatives has already approved Package 1, which seeks to lower income tax in exchange for higher taxes on petroleum, automobiles, and sugar-sweetened beverages. The measure remains pending in the Senate.

Some senators have expressed concern about the possible price increases on basic commodities because of higher fuel prices.

Package 2 eyes lowering of corporate income tax and changing fiscal incentives to remove perks from sectors that have long been benefitting from it through the years.

Package 3 seeks to review property valuation while Package 4 focuses on capital income taxation such as dividends, interest income, and capital gains, among others.


In discussing coal, Chua said the government also has to balance the country’s need for renewable energy and cheap sources, especially in Mindanao, which is highly reliant on fossil fuels.

"It's the first time we are taxing coal. While on automobile, fuel, we thought we were ready. The other reason is, Mindanao is relying on coal. We need to balance reliable cheap sources without abruptly affecting prices,” Chua said.

Hontiveros pointed out that while Mindanao relies on several coal power plants, it is also very rich in natural sources for renewable energy – something that Senate energy committee chair Sherwin Gatchalian agreed to.

“Yes, Mindanao is largely dependent at the moment but the region is very rich in underdeveloped renewable resources, including hydro,” she said. –


10 Vietnamese poachers arrested off Palawan

PATROLLING THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA. BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of 3 former U.S. Coast Guard ships acquired by the Philippine Navy. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – Ten Vietnamese allegedly caught poaching off Palawan province were arrested and will face poaching charges, according to the Philippine military.

The naval warship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was patrolling the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on Tuesday, August 8, when it sighted foreign fishing vessel Hua Houng off Palawan's Tapuitan Point.

Captain Cherryl Tindog, spokesperson of the military Western Command (Wescom), said the crew of th warship boarded the fishing vessel and found that the Vietnamese crew had on board fine meshed fish net and dead sharks.

The warship escorted the fishing vessel to El Nido where further inspection was conducted by representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) alongwith the police and coast guard.

Tindog said Wescom has turned over custody of the fishing vesel to BFAR, which recommended the filing of charges against the Vietnamese crew. –

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